Yesterday, Christians everywhere celebrated the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! It is the beginning of a new chapter for the apostles and for those who put faith in the person of Jesus. The person whom they thought was dead is no longer in the tomb! What does this all mean?!
Can you even imagine the feelings of the apostles …. Just a week ago the twelve apostles, with Jesus, triumphantly entered Jerusalem. All was right with the world! What could go wrong? Then, on Thursday, one of their own, Judas, hands Jesus over to the Romans who subsequently kill him the next day! What!? But just a few days ago…… Scared and confused, the eleven apostles (Judas hung himself) hide. They fear the Romans are also after them. At a time when Jesus needs his friends, they are nowhere to be found. What do we do when we are scared? Can you understand why they might have fled? I’m not trying to justify their actions, but to understand them. Getting into the emotions of the apostles has been my spiritual theme this Holy Week (click here for my post setting the theme).
Come Sunday morning, while the apostles stay in hiding, not sure what to do next now that the person whom they thought was the son of God most assuredly was not, some of the women followers excitedly enter their hiding spot screaming that the body of Jesus is missing from the tomb! Wait, that’s not all; they saw an angel who told them Jesus was alive! What?! Now how should they feel?
So, in summary, the apostles, in a matter of days, go from excitement to fear, to despair, to questioning their beliefs, to confusion to cautious optimism Sunday morning. Wow! We know from the scripture that Jesus later appears to the apostles and instructs them on what they are to do next. I can only imagine the shame they felt in knowing they abandoned Him and questioned their faith about Him. But, and this is important, for when Jesus appears to the apostles He does not reprimand them; rather, His first words are “Peace”. All is forgiven. Even Peter, who denied Jesus, is forgiven (here is my previous reflection on Peter’s forgiveness).
What does this mean for me, for us? In times of our lack of faith, when we feel shame about how we treat Jesus, we need to know that He is always there to welcome us back with a word “peace”. We no longer need to hide in fear. And this is what the apostles did. They left their hiding place and preached the risen Jesus to the world! For me, this is my “physical” proof of the resurrection of Jesus; the preaching of the apostles without fear.
What but the resurrection could have taken away their fear? They hid for fear of the Romans killing them. None of them were from Jerusalem, so it would have been easy for them to, after a few days, slip out of the city and return to their small towns in the countryside. To resume their lives as if none of this ever happened. But they didn’t! They publicly preached that Jesus was the son of God risen from the dead. And for me, the only explanation for their new-found courage; they actually saw the risen Jesus.
Just last year the singing group “Fun” released their song “Carry On“. The song is one of perseverance, and while not written as a religious song, I feel it very well grasps the emotions of the apostles as they came to grips of what the Resurrection meant for them. Here is the final verse and chorus of the song (the video is below):
My head is on fire
But my legs are fine
Cause after all they are mine
Lay your clothes down on the floor
Close the door
Hold the phone
Show me how
No one’s ever gonna stop us now
Cause we are
We are shining stars
We are invincible
We are who we are
On our darkest day
When we’re miles away
So we’ll come
We will find our way home
If you’re lost and alone
Or you’re sinking like a stone
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Easter, in it’s spiritual sense, is not meant to celebrated on one day, but to be lived every day! The sense of hope, forgiveness and new life are to be proclaimed and lived daily! No matter what life brings us, we are now meant to “carry on” knowing and feeling the excitement of the risen Jesus!
In our lives, what can we do to feel this excitement? How do we learn to “carry on”? Focus your attention and mind on the present moment; live the moment. The apostles felt their feelings in the moment, not knowing what was to come next. Live your moments; embrace them, feel them, experience them. Do the next right thing and then live that next moment. Before you know it, you will “find your way home” and “carry on.”